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Joanna White

When my children were toddlers, my windowsills were often full of dandelions and clovers. As a parent, there’s nothing quite as special as the gifts your children give you. Each plucked blossom took some effort because they were so little, and they meant the world to me. I think of this often as a reminder that every gift is impactful, no matter the size.

I also believe that gifts leave a lasting impression when the giver is intentional. Recently my husband and I decided to surprise our kids with a trip to Walt Disney World for spring break. The trip was absolutely wonderful – we had a blast! I think of it as the best gift because it was such a fun time of bonding and happiness in our family.

For our family, we have to be strategic with our giving because we aren’t wealthy. We do live within our means, which allows us to give when we feel led, but one strategy we use to prioritize giving is automatic monthly donations. Many organizations allow donors to set up automatic payments. We do this in small monthly amounts for several of our favorite organizations. Those intentional monthly increments add up quickly and help us make a big impact over time!

Many gifts are not financial at all but rather gifts of time. To be the good you wish to see, I give back to this wonderful place we call home as a volunteer and Board member. I love to encourage people to find their passion, know their lane, and then make the time. Join in the good! The 80/20 rule definitely applies in our community; 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I want to flip that formula on its head! Let’s be a great place to live in a new way: by expanding our volunteer hours, which strengthens the hundreds of organizations that are doing life-changing work in this city. I believe that NAVIGATE Nonprofit Network Conference is the best possible first step to get involved with local nonprofits. At NAVIGATE, you’ll learn what it means to serve on a board, meet representatives from the entire North Alabama non-profit ecosystem, and gain excellent professional development.

What difference do I want to make in our community? As Community Foundation board member G.W. Boon says, “I just want to be involved in as much good as possible.” For me, that often looks like building bridges between people and the causes in our community that need support. I hope the difference I make is that a volunteer in our community says they found their passion for service from a connection I helped establish. We will remain the best place to live – whether the press recognizes us or not – if we all continue to be #HereForGood, together!